Thursday, 7 April 2011

Back to Marple

We were made very welcome by the locals in Portland Basin Marina last night and treated to an impromptu recital by Keith who's an absolute star on the piccolo trumpet (which was a beautiful shiny red) and the post horn.

It was pretty miserable first thing this morning but brightened up a treat as we set off back towards Marple. We'd just got to the first lock when we picked up something large on the propeller which meant Roger lost all steering just as he was entering the lock. We got to the top and he opened up the weed hatch for a look. It's VERY rare that we ever notice anything round the prop as we have a blade fitted on the prop shaft which cuts rope and weed into shreds before it can cause a problem but even this cutter couldn't cope with a size 18 black cardigan!

The locks gates and paddles weren't any easier than they were 3 weeks ago when we came down the flight, but  the coal boat Alton was following us up the locks and Brian kept going on ahead on his bike setting the locks. As we left a lock I'd open the bottom paddles so that by the time the Alton got to the lock it was empty ready for them.  Even with Brian's help, I was so tired after lock 11 that I swapped with Roger and let him work the last 5 locks while I had a rest and drove. I'm not too fond of driving the boat in deep locks especially when this is the view!

in close up - looks scarier than it is!!!

The visitor moorings were fairly empty although the usual continuous moorers are still in the prime slots they were in when we passed 3 weeks ago! The gardens of the houses opposite have really come on since we passed last and the azaleas and Pieris Forest Flames are beautiful.

I'd put a casserole in the slow cooker so that dinner would be ready when we moored up for the night but it was a disaster! We were supposed to be having beef in Theakston's Old Peculiar Ale but the beer must have been 'off' as the gravy was horrible, sour and not at all appetising, so we went to the Ring o'Bells pub opposite the visitor moorings. This Robinsons pub was very busy, in fact we met Brian and his mate from Alton having their dinner in there, and the food wasn't bad. The veggies were microwaved and rock hard but the duck in orange sauce was tasty and the chips were home made, not frozen.

We're trying a new fuel on the fire. It's made from recycled paper and cardboard and is supposed to be very ecological, you can even burn the bag! It costs £5 for 10kg. and is in handy sized 'logs' which give minimal ash. First impressions are good, although it does have it's draw-backs. You HAVE to keep it dry or it swells up substantially and it only burns for a couple of hours so couldn't replace coal to burn all night. It's good for a quick fire in the cool spring mornings, lights fast, burns hot and doesn't smoke much at all. I'm not sure I'd buy another bag because of the storage problems of keeping it dry on the boat but it would definitely be good in a house.

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